Men hungering for a healthy serving of spirituality get more than they bargain for at Blessed Sacrament Parish. The Tonawanda church hosts a Breakfast & the Bible event the first Saturday of every month immediately following the 8 a.m. Mass. The morning consists of fresh made breakfast of eggs (and recently zucchini soufflé), a guest speaker and some Bible study.
The program has been in motion since October 2016, first hosted at St. Benedict Parish in Eggertsville, but is rooted in from a Bible Study in Lockport.
"A couple years ago I was going through some trials in my life. One day I looked in the mirror and said, 'Lord, why are you doing this to me?'" recalled Ken Paulin, one of the organizers. "Right away, the Holy Spirit came back with two things. He wanted me to start a men's ministry at my church. I resisted. I inquired if some facilities were available, then I used that as an excuse. 'OK, I tried and it didn't work out.'"
After reading the book of Haggai, he saw the study notes in his Bible saying procrastination is a form of disobedience. So he asked for help and tried again. He found assistance in the form of Jim Dembik, who worked with Paulin in the Christ-Life program at St. John the Baptist Parish in Lockport. The parish already had a co-ed discussion group, so they created a men's only group, which they said had great discussion and fellowship.
"The Lord told me, 'This is your foundation. Start with this.' When that seven-week session ended, I said, 'Guys, let's continue this. Let's start a men's Bible study," said Paulin. After talking to a few other people, including Dennis Mahaney, director of Evangelization and Parish Life for the diocese, Paulin and Dembik sought out a location. St. Benedict hosted for the first few months, but it became difficult to find a priest to celebrate a Saturday morning Mass. When Father Matt Nycz became pastor of Blessed Sacrament, he invited the group to come.
On March 3, Father Jacek Mazur spoke on Divine Mercy, giving an informative but informal overview on the devotion and St. Faustina, the Polish visionary, who detailed a depiction of Jesus to the artist who painted the popular Divine Mercy icon.
The speakers come from all over the diocese, usually through recommendations. Topics have included exorcism, the Immaculate Heart of Jesus and suffering. Priests and seminarians are common, but they also had a nutritionist in January who went over well. So, the meetings help with sound mind, body and spirit. The Bible passage they study coincides with the theme of the talk.
"We sometimes plan things and the Holy Spirit changes them," Paulin said. "I always pray that the Holy Spirit work through me, give the thought, the words, the opportunity."
A typical Saturday sees 20 to 30 men drop in for all or part of the morning. They mostly come from Tonawanda, Kenmore, Lockport and Buffalo, but the program is open to all men. They seem to enjoy the fellowship they get from the group.
"I've been involved in the Church my whole life," said John McFadden, who comes from St. John the Baptist in Kenmore. "More recently, since I retired from working full time, gotten more involved in more activities that are of a religious nature. I've been a regular participant in the annual Men's Conference. That is just such an uplifting experience, that I jumped on this group when I found it. It's always nice to see a group of men coming together to express their faith. We don't see that much."
The group has gotten so popular that the women have gotten jealous and started their own group.
"It's just been such a blessing. Truly the Lord's work. I'm blessed to be the hands and feet that He does it through," said Paulin.
The next meeting will take place April 7, when Deacon Venatius Agnasiere will discuss suffering. On May 5, Father Michael Burzynski will talk about his vast collection of relics. Everyone is welcome to attend all or part of the morning's event. A $5 donation is requested to cover the cost of the breakfast.